TRADE IMPROVEMENT: The U.S. trade deficit declined to $41.5 billion in September, the lowest level in nearly two years, because exports rose to a record high, the Commerce Department reported.
THE DETAILS: Exports climbed 3.1 percent to an all-time high of $187 billion. That reflected stronger sales of commercial aircraft, heavy machinery and farm goods. Imports rose 1.5 percent to $228.5 billion. An increase in consumer goods drove the gain, including shipments of the new Apple iPhone5. Higher oil prices also contributed.
THE OUTLOOK: The narrower trade deficit could lead the government to revise its July-September economic growth estimate up from the 2 percent annual rate reported last month. That's because U.S. companies earned more from overseas sales while consumers and businesses spent less on foreign products.